The Holby City star and glitterball contender on being the dark horse of this year's competition.

Nobody was more shocked than Holby City star Joe McFadden, when he became only the second celebrity of this year’s crop to be shown the elusive Strictly ‘10’.

Since then, he and partner Katya Jones have continued to wow us with high-scoring routines that leave frontrunners like Alexandra Burke watching her back.

But modest Joe, 42 insists the glitterball is still a long way out of his reach, and is setting his sights on next week’s Blackpool extravaganza instead.

Here Joe McFadden reveals all about nerves, sleep deprivation and following in the footsteps of Ed Balls.

Joe, you’re delivering some incredible routines – would it be fair to call you the dark horse of the competition?

Joe McFadden: “I don’t think of myself that way because I know how nervous I get on the night and how steps can fly out of the window – if I was a gambling man I wouldn’t bet on me! It’s mind-blowing to get tens though, I never thought I’d even get a nine, especially not so early on.”

If you’re not at Strictly, you’re filming Holby City – you must be exhausted!

JM: “Holby have gone very easy on me actually, I’ve got a light schedule. I filmed some big stuff a couple of months back, which is coming on screen soon, so I’ve not been too busy there. Both shows film in Elstree too, so that’s handy!”

strictly joe mcfadden

We keep spotting your castmates in the audience…

JM: “Yes, they’ve all been very supportive of me, and it’s so nice to have them in the audience, sharing the experience. I have an endless waiting list of people who want to come for future shows but I might be voted off before they come. I think I might be struck off some people’s Christmas card lists!”

Last year Katya danced with the inimitable Ed Balls. Does she ever compare your moves?

JM: “I found Strictly quite overwhelming at first and I had to give myself a good talking to, so that I would calm down. I was really slow picking up the steps and Katya would say, ‘Ed got these moves very quickly’. That made me think, ‘Right, I’ve really got to apply myself now!’ Katya’s a great teacher and I really admired Ed’s dedication when he was on the show.”

Next week is the all-important Blackpool special. What would it mean to you to make it through to the Tower Ballroom?

JM: “The goalposts keep changing. In the beginning I just didn’t want to be awful and embarrass everyone, then my goal was Halloween but now I really think it would be amazing to get to Blackpool. It’s such an iconic place for Katya and the pros, they’ve all competed there and they say it’s a really beautiful ballroom. I’ve got some friends from up north coming to the show so they’ll be very disappointed if I’m not dancing.”

What’s the toughest part of the Strictly experience so far?

JM: “Definitely the sleep deprivation – I really love my sleep and I miss it so much at the moment! I basically just spend every Sunday snoozing and then I cuddle up with the dog in front of the fire in the evening.”

Have you got used to facing very honest criticism from the judges?

JM: “It’s funny, I really enjoy that bit – even when the judges say bad things, the fact that I’m stood in front of them and they’re saying my name is quite thrilling! Craig said the cha cha wasn’t my finest hour and I wanted to disagree with him. It was actually one of the finest hours I’ve ever had in my life because it was a real joy just being there with him!”

Strictly continues on Saturday evening at 6.45pn on BBC1.